A new landmark study from the UK food and drink supply chain suggests that up to a third of UK horticultural businesses would be ‘unviable’ without access to EU workers, while 17 per cent would consider locating overseas in their search for labour.
Produced by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), the report claims that 20 per cent of the two million EU nationals currently living in the UK are employed by the country’s £110 billion food and drink industry.
Nigel Jenny, FPC CEO, commented, “The fresh produce industry provides a diverse range of food & flowers all year round to our multicultural nation. The report highlights the sector’s major concerns regarding availability of labour and highlights the serious consequences of failure.
“Food security and the ongoing supply of safe, affordable food must be a critical element of UK Government’s Brexit delivery plan. As a sector we depend on our committed workforce, and we need government to provide clear assurances to our EU workers and UK businesses. This is now time critical to safeguard future supply of fresh produce and flowers!”
The report also revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of businesses surveyed said EU nationals were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty surrounding their future.
Ian Wright CBE, Director General of the Food & Drink Federation, added: “Food is a matter of national security, so the results of this report are of central concern to businesses across the ‘farm to fork’ industries. It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty reported by businesses results in an irreversible exit of EU workers from these shores. Without our dedicated and valued workforce we would be unable to feed the nation. This is why it is imperative that we receive assurances from Government about their future, and that of our wider workforce.”
Photo Caption: The new report highlights labour issues in the food chain
Photo Credit: FPC / FDF